Housing Bills on Tap in House
The House will spend the week of May 5 on two housing-related bills, with other possible agenda items including the farm bill conference report, the budget resolution and the Iraq War supplemental bill.
However, after weeks of predicting action on the supplemental no later than the first week of May, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) on Thursday announced that closed-door negotiations on the Iraq package are still ongoing and may delay consideration of the bill.
“It is still a possibility” that the bill will reach the floor during the week of May 5, said Hoyer, but “I’m not assured” by House Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.) that he can “move it ahead that quickly.”
Regardless, the Majority Leader insisted that the supplemental is one of the bills that he wants “to see passed before we leave” for the Memorial Day recess on May 23.
On other fronts, Hoyer said budget writers are “close on the budget conference” and that a budget resolution “may well be a possibility” for consideration on the floor next week.
Hoyer said he will “contemplate an extension” of the Higher Education Act as a higher education conference report continues to be hashed out behind closed doors.
The farm bill conference report could also reach the floor the week of May 5. On Friday, President Bush signed a two-week extension of current farm law, just hours after farm bill conferees worked through amendments in a seven-hour marathon meeting.
Looking ahead, Hoyer said the House will take up the defense authorization bill the week of May 19.
Otherwise, the two bills certain for debate the week of May 5 will address the housing crisis.
The first bill, the FHA Housing Stabilization and Homeownership Retention Act, would allow the Federal Housing Administration to guarantee up to $300 billion in refinanced mortgages that have been significantly written down by mortgage holders and lenders to stem foreclosures. The FHA guarantee would make the restructured loans more attractive in the secondary market.
The second bill, the Neighborhood Stabilization Act, would provide $15 billion in loans and grants to states and cities to buy foreclosed properties.